Monday, December 4, 2006

The Chinese Nuclear Weapons Program

A paper I wrote that touches on the Chinese nuclear arsenal, China's proliferation practices, and how these threaten United States national security.

http://web.mit.edu/efogg/Public/chinanuclear.pdf

A brief summary:

The Chinese nuclear arsenal is technologically sound and very capable. The Chinese have nuclear warheads mounted on ballistic missiles capable of hitting the entire area of the United States. Also, some Chinese military personnel have implied or said explicitly that deploying nuclear weapons against the United States remains an option if the United States intervenes in a cross-strait (Taiwanese) conflict. But because of its investment in United States consumers, as well as the Asian supply line and world economy in general, the Chinese government is very likely to see the costs of nuclear warfare far too high for it to be a serious option.

But Chinese proliferation policy in the 1980's and 1990's has given ballistic missile and/or nuclear weapons technology to very dangerous states, including Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan. These countries not only pose a significant nuclear threat to the United States and its allies, but may very well further spread nuclear or ballistic missile technology to other dangerous states or terrorist organizations. This would constitute a "Cascade of Proliferation," making nuclear technology nearly democratic, and making the world a significantly more dangerous place. Although China's nuclear proliferation policy has become much more responsible with time, it's past actions have armed many states dangerous to the United States. Any damage that the Chinese nuclear program might do to the United States may now be out of Chinese control.
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